|READ THIS FIRST|
Read this firstJust before you get into the detail, a few health warnings!
Registration.To get to a Kirchentag you need to register. For up to nine people you can do this on-line here. According to the German website, this facility will be available from September 2012.
You can contact Robin Blount to ask if there is a group registering in your area. The advantage of going with a group is that groups are usually accommodated near to the city, and sometimes can make block travel booking.
CostThe Kirchentag is remarkably cheap. Costs for Hamburg 2012 are:
€89 for individual registrations.
€49 for under-25s, disabled, pensioners on low income, those on benefit.
€138 for a Family pass - parent(s) with children under 25 attending (children under 13 go free).
€28 day pass (concession rate €21).
Do remember, though, that you will also have to cover your costs of getting to and from Germany, plus meals other than breakfast.
The pass gets you into every one of the hundreds of events that take place, and on to the regional transport network.
PaymentIt is now possible to pay on-line using your Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card but this facility may not be available until nearer the Kirchentag.
You can make payment online here (www.kirchentag.de/epayment).
Payment has to be made before the Dauerkarte (Kirchentag pass) will be sent out. Packs are usually sent out several weeks ahead of the Kirchentag; if by then you have already paid, it will include the Dauerkarte. If your pack does not include the Dauerkarte when it arrives, the Dauerkarte will be sent by separate post once payment has been made and processed. Information about your private accommodation (hosts' name and address) will also be sent nearer the time.
AccommodationPrivate acommodation can be found with families in and near the city, on a cost-free Bed-&-Breakfast basis. This is the usual arrangement for participants from the UK and the rest of the world. The administration fee for arranging this is €21 per person; the hosts do not receive any money.
Accommodation will be available for you from Tuesday evening until Sunday midday, but it is nearly always possible to stay until the Monday morning if you arrange this with your hosts.
It is worth arriving on the Tuesday, because this gives you 24-hours to find out where things are before the Kirchentag opens on Wednesday afternoon. If you are staying with a family, try to get in touch as soon as you receive their details, and think about taking small gifts for them.
There are special arangements for booking Hotels and Youth Hostels.
TravelYou will need to book your journey to and from the city with your local travel agent. Since many people take the opportunity to make a holiday break out of the Kirchentag, it is impossible to offer a travel service. However, there are sometimes groups going from the UK and there may be spare seats. You may be able to find this out by emailing Robin Blount at robin.blount38[at]gmail.com.
Travel around the city and the region is included in your registration fee, and your entry pass is valid on all buses, trams and trains within the regional transport network.
MealsNormally you will enjoy breakfast with your hosts, so you will need to cater for yourselves at other times. There are numerous food outlets in the Messegelände (exhibition centre), and restaurants will be open all over the city for evening meals. At the Dresden Kirchentag there was a Lunch Ticket available for €12. You will need to have euros for all this; many restaurants will accept VISA, Mastercard and other plastic, but not all! Check before you sit down.
Take some water with you every day. The Kirchentag can be exhausting, and a small bottle could save your life!
ProgrammeA few weeks before the Kirchentag, you should receive your pack with the programme book, a small book with thousands of events that take place during the Kirchentag. It is arranged by theme and by day, but it's all in German! However, and fortunately, Sheila Brain and Elaine Griffiths produce for English-speaking people an excellent summary of the main events and a lot of other useful information. Both these should be with you long before you start packing.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the Kirchentag. Some 150,000 people will be attending, and this means long queues at really popular events and early journeys to some of the more distant events. So it's important to plan your day carefully, to avoid exhaustion. There are discussion groups, debates, visits, bands of all sorts (not just brass ones), theatre, and enough to keep you busy for a month. Pace yourself, and wear what's comfortable.
With the programme comes a detailed map of the city, with all the venues clearly marked, and a song book for the worship.
The English Programme Guide will also appear on this website shortly after it is published, and probably on the German website as well (in English and German)
LanguageThe Kirchentag is unmistakeably a German event, with years of excellent German organisation behind it! The great majority of people who attend are German or German-speaking, but there are many events in English or with simultaneous translation.
You can arrange for your own personal interpreter! Go to the International Visitor Service (IViS) (where German people are not allowed unless invited!) and you will be able to arrange it. The IViS is part of the Kirchentag's International Centre, usually found in the International Congress Centre (ICC). The skills of the interpreter range from the professional to the competent student (luck of the draw), and depending on the event, you will get either a whispered commentary, the highlights, or even a written summary as it happens. I've had all three of these. Some folk have got on so well with their interpreter that the arrangement has carried not only for the whole Kirchentag but for subsequent Kirchentags as well (depending on availability, of course).
For an event with simultaneous translation, there will be headphones available at no cost, but you will have to leave some ID (passport, driving licence, Dauerkarte etc). You'll be directed to a seating area within the range of the transmitters. (Don't be alarmed by long pauses from the interpreter; he or she will be waiting for the verb at the end of a sentence!)
ProblemsOf course there won't be any problems! But just in case, you can always leave a message - the I.C. staff will all speak English (and probably several other languages as well!).
If there's a real emergency, your hosts will be able to direct you to the nearest hospital or whatever. At the Exhibition Centre, there are hundreds of scouts wearing a (usually green) sash with the word Hilfer (helper); again, they will almost certainly speak enough English to point you in the right direction.
Phone home!Just for the record, the international code for the U.K. is 44, often preceded by 00, and omit the first 0 in the English number. There may be a special telephone code to dial first, either in addition to or instead of the 00 in order to make an international call.
Useful hints - send me yours!Adaptors: if you're going to take electrical items, take a European adaptor as well. Even a 2-pin UK shaver plug will not fit a continental socket.
Clothing: be comfortable, not smart! No-one dresses smart for the Kirchentag (except perhaps for dignitaries) and anyway, you'll not be noticed in a crowd!
Anything else?If there are questions not covered above, please feel free to get in touch with either Robin or Sheila - our phone numbers are here.
Lastly,...Enjoy the Kirchentag! We hope it will be a stimulating experience for you. If you write something for your church newsletter, you may like to send a copy to Sheila and Robin. Any feeback is always helpful, especially when it's about something that we might improve on.